- UK retail sales rise
- US jobless claims fall
- US GDP revised higher
- Ukraine, Greek to receive financial aid
FTSE 100: -0.26%
CAC 40: -0.14%
FTSE MIB: 0.10%
IBEX 35: 0.57%
Stoxx 600: 0.14%
European stocks were little changed as investors weighed economic data in the UK and US.
UK retail sales rose by 3.7% in February against the same month a year ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. It beat economists' forecasts of a 2.5% gain and compared to a 4.4% year-on-year increase in January.
In the US, jobless claims dropped to their lowest levels in nearly four months last week, according to the Labor Department. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 311,000 in the seven days to March 22nd, from a revised 321,000 the week before.
It was the lowest since November and surprised analysts who had expected claims to rise to 323,000.
Meanwhile, US gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter was revised higher to an annualised rate of 2.6%, from the initial 2.4% estimate. However, the consensus estimate was for a revision to 2.7%.
US pending home sales declined 0.8% in February, falling short of expectations for a 0.2% increase. In January sales fell 0.2%.
Ukraine, Greece aid
Ukraine will secure $27bn in aid following an agreement with the International Monetary Fund IMF on Thursday.
The financial lifeline comes amid Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, which prompted Western leaders to enact targeted sanctions against senior officials responsible for the destabilisation.
Separately the IMF said it was in talks to give further aid to Greece. Officials familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg the IMF is considering an aid payment of €3.6bn as its contribution to the next tranche.
The country is set to receive a commitment from euro-region authorities as soon as mid-April for a payment of €8.3bn.
Euro-area finance ministers will meet in Athens next week.
H&M, Cairn Energy
H&M declined as the European fashion retailer reported a rise in first quarter net income that missed market predictions.
Cairn Energy jumped after Goldman Sachs raised the oil explorer to 'buy' from 'neutral'.
Babcock International Group dropped as the engineering-services company agreed to buy private equity-owned Avincis for £920m to expand in helicopter servicing.
Deutsche Lufthansa slipped as Europe's second-largest airline cancelled one in three flights scheduled for today following a labour strike in Germany.
Marine Harvest rallied as Oslo-based company said the enterprise value of the farming operations on the Shetland and Orkney Islands is £122.5m.
The UK's Royal Bank of Scotland and Spain's Santander slumped after their US units failed the Federal Reserve's stress test.
Alstom retreated following reports the French maker of trains and power equipment is facing a US bribery case.
United Internet gained after the German provider of phone and internet services posted a rise in 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation on an increase in sales.
The euro fell 0.26% to $1.3745.
Brent crude futures rose $0.530 to $107.600 per barrel, according the ICE.